Balochistan in Conflict with Pakistan : Part 2

….“I can co-exist with a pig but not with a Punjabi” (1)…even if the swine helps…is India such a demon….we’ll refuse their help….why(?)…to prove we’re good Muslims or good Pakistanis…neither applies (Al Jazeera)…. Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri

Pakistan is facing the its 5th militant insurgency in Balochistan — more deadlier than the previous 4 — that refuses to die down. This time around the Baloch movement is multi-faceted, making it much more effective👇👇👇…Armed struggle spearheaded by almost half a dozen militant wings spread all over Balochistan. Counter measures by Pakistani army.Women contribution to the struggle.Political parties openly pushing for independence. Human rights orgs and BNP_M.Domestic challenges of Pakistan, exploitation and fears of demographic inavsion.Karachi attack

The current insurrection against the Pakistani state spiralled out of control following the killing of the prominent nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation on 26th August 2006 by the regime of the then military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf. (2). However the militancy — in its sporadic form — began lot earlier than Bugti’s assassination. Sushant Sareen implies — in Balochistan: Forgotten war, Forsaken people — the ongoing resistence started soon after Gen Pervez Musharraf came to power through military coup. The triggers may have been dismissal of Balochistan’s then Chief Minister Akhtar Mengal’s government before Musharraf took over and later implicating Nawab Marri in a murder case after the events of October 1999. Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) rocked Quetta with 3 bomb blasts including one at the military cantonment July 2000 (3). That was hardly after 9 months of Musharraf’s coup d’état on 12th October 1999. This militancy is in the 19th year and we’re still counting👇👇👇

The role of the women

For the first time the women have stepped forward playing their part in the freedom struggle. It appears the inclusion of the women was the brainchild of Dr Nazar, which is now bearing fruit. The women have not picked up the guns but they’re on the streets. Dr Nazar looks lot younger in this video. It is probable this was long before he took up the arms👇👇👇…

The contributions of Farzana Majeed, Sammi Baloch and Seema Baloch were highlighted in Tears of Balochistan. The seasoned campaigner Naila Baloch is best known for highlighthe Baloch case in India. Hafsa Baloch is member BSO-Azad’s South Korea cell👇👇👇…

The young activist Mahrang Baloch (4) — after losing her father — took to the streets for the recovery of her brother and succeeded. The prominent BSO-Azad leader Karima Baloch (5) was the chairperson of her party until 2018. In 2016 Karima was included in BBC’s list of 100 most influential women (6). Bibi Gul Jan and Tayyaba Baloch are chairperson and vice chairperson of Baloch Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) respectively (6a). Hooran Baloch — previously associated with BRP now with VBMP (7) — ridiculed Pakistanis on their faces on Indian channel Times Now.👇👇👇…

The surge, fears and exploitation.

Looking at the present day violence only through the prism of forced annexation in 1948 and the subsequent military operations will be an understatement. The illegal occupation is equally matched by the 70 years of economic exploitation of the minerals and resources rich Baloch land for the benefit of Punjab at the expense of the locals. What Sana Baloch — from Akhtar Mengal’s BNP — is explaining below in the 17 minute long video is only the tip of the iceberg. The Urdu words ‘wafaq’ and ‘suba‘ stand for centre and province respectively👇👇👇…

Pakistan’s population is set to exceed 300 million by 2050 (8). Lack of resources, economic development and water shortages will eventually boomerang on the country over next 30 years or so. Sparsley populated Balochistan accounts for less than 6% of the Pakistan’s population but 43% of its total land. The Baloch people fear — justifiably so — they’ll be reduced to a thin minority in their own homeland with the influx of outsiders, mainly Punjabis. For example; the dominant Punjab makes up for 53% of country’s population but only has 25% of its land. What makes it more intriguing is the bulk of Balochistan’s population residing in the small pockets in the far flung areas means more than 90% of Baloch territory has no record of ownership (9). Outsiders purchasing land and displacing locals — with the blessings of Rawalpindi — is already happening in Gwadar (10). One can only imagine what the deep state will do with the undemarcated swaths of territory when they have the nerve to dislocate people from the settled areas. A Baloch friend connected to the nationalist struggle had this to say. 👇👇👇…

Non-violent front

This militant struggle is further legitimised by the mass support and on-ground political struggle. Let’s look at the outfits openly batting for the independence👇👇👇…Baloch Republican Party(11)(BRP) is chaired by Brahumdagh Bugti. Abdul Nawaz Bugti (12) is BRP’s face at United Nations Human Rights CouncilVoice for Missing Baloch Persons(VMBP) is run by Mama Qadeer. Farzana Majeed, Hooran Baloch & Seema Baloch are also associated with VMBP. It is rather a humantarian organisation just like Baloch Human Rights Organisation (13). Their sympathies lie with the freedom fighters.BSO-Azad was established by Dr Nazar in 2002. After him taking to the mountains this organsisation threw up the gems; Zakir Majeed, Zahid Baloch, Shabir Baloch, Qambar Chakar (14) and Sangat Sana (15). The first 3 are were abducted by ISI and are still officially missing. Qambar Chakar and Sangat Sana were brutally assassinated by the agencies.Balochistan National Movement(BNM) is led by Khalil Baloch (15a). Karima Baloch’s spouse Hammal Haidar represents the BNM in the western world. BNM’s founder Ghulam Muhammad Baloch (16) — the legendary martyr — was killed and dumped by the ISI in 2009.

World Baloch Organisation (WBO) had the Pakistani government reeling in 2017 with the ‘Free Balochistan’ adverts flying in London, Manchester, Geneva, New York and Washington. WBO is run by Javed Mengal (Akhtar Mengal’s brother) and his sons Bhawal Mengal and Nurdin Mengal👇👇👇…

The above mentioned parties outrightly reject any compromise with the Pakistani state. They have taken the struggle beyond borders; BRP, BSO-A, BNM, WBO & VMBP have made their presence felt in Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, England, Canada, South Korea et al.

Balochistan Awami Party, National Party, Jamhoori Watan Party and BNP-M work within the federation of Pakistan. Needless to say they are collaborators with the enemy save BNP-M. The present Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan’s elders — the feudal lords of Lasbela (17) — were in cahoots with Jinnah at the cost of Baloch independence in 1948. A Baloch friend told this scribe, the 4 Chief Ministers of Balochistan came from this family alone. As mentioned earlier this writer does not subscribe to painting Akhtar Mengal with the same brush as the other quislings. Mengal is not in the parliament in the capacity of a “Pakistani patriot”. His alliance with Imran Khan is conditional👇👇👇….

Given how the deep state operates and Pakistan’s economic woes it is virtually impossible for the puppet Prime Minister Imran Khan living upto his promises even if he sincerely wants to do so. Pakistan Army’s repression — forceful abductions — and accountability over the dealings with Beijing is a no-go zone for the political dispensation. Despite the 18th Amendment (18) the federal government continues plundering the Baloch resources to feed Punjab and to please the Chinese. The generals will not risk the wrath of Beijing for the Baloch people whom they regard as subhumans. Balochistan becomes more significant in overcoming the impending population crisis and dwindling resources of Pakistan, and they’re already working on it. Afghan refugees help maintain demographic imbalance in Balochistan. Secondly, ISI wouldn’t want to upset the Pathans and the Afghan Taliban for their strategic depth. The military will not cave in.

Mengal is not too hopeful Imm the Dim will live up to his promises. Hardly 3 months into the alliance he has already hinted (more than once) at walking out on PTI should they fail in their commitnents. Then why is he in it? Due to lack of meaningful external support Mengal is rather pragmatic. He uses the political platform to vent his frusrtations at the Pakistani federation. He may not endorse the violence of the armed struggle but he sympathises to the idea of independence. BNP-Mengal openly endorses the right of self determination for Balochistan (19)👇👇👇…

The main difference between Dr Nazar and Mengal is the former openly calls for freedom without getting into a nitty-grity of plebicite, the latter chooses his words — “self determination” — carefully knowing fully well the public will vote for the independence. The approach and the choice of words may differ but the objective of Dr Nazar and Mengal remains same. Mengal approaches Pakistan’s “democratic” process anticipating it will serve the Baloch cause better in future should the international scenario ever turn in the favour of the Baloch. As discussed in Tears of Balochistan write-up, BNP-M’s leaders were spotted with the VMBP protests. Naseer Gichki asked for international intervention. Another BNP leader Lashkari Raisani said “Balochistan is not a province but our motherland” (20). On 28th November 2018 Mengal himself reached out to Mama Qadeer and Seema Baloch in Quetta👇👇👇….

Militancy & Counter insurgency 

The militant groups fighting for the liberation are; Dr Nazar’s Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF). Aslam Baloch heads Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Harbiar Marri is often accused of leading BLA but the exiled leader has denied it, similar allegations were levelled towards his younger sibling Mehran Marri controlling United Baloch Army (UBA). Balochistan Republican Army (BRA), Balochistan Republican Guard (BRG) are Lashkar e Balochistan et al make up the violent face of the Baloch resistence. These groups operate thoughout Balochistan hitting at the Pakistan security forces, and, the Chinese interests regularly. Some interesting happenings of 2018 suggests the militancy has come a long way from the previous failures against the might of the Pakistani army. In the past the differences in between the armed wings hampered the progress. This seems to be changing on the ground. On  23 February 2018 BRA announced they have agreed to align together with UBA & Lashkar e Balochistan for the greater cause (21). The even better news came through on 10th November 2018; two of the biggest armed wings BLF and BLA — headed by Dr Nazar and Aslam Baloch respectively — along with BRG announced the formation of an umbrella organisation, Baloch Raaji Aaajohi e Sangar (BRAS) meaning Baloch National Freedom Front (22). The advantages of loose alliance allow the groups to come together when required while maintaining autonomy at the same.

Pakistani repression is not only restricted towards the violent militant groups. ISI’s counter insurgency strategy is multi-pronged. The security forces are guilty of killing and dumping the nationalist activists regardless of whether the victims were involved in militancy or not. Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, Qambar Chakar, Saba Dashtyari (23), Abdul Ghaffar Langov, Sangat Sana, Dr Manan Baloch (23a) and countless others were butchered in a cold blooded manner. None of them were involved in the armed struggle themsleves. In an attempt to weed out the secular nationalist liberation movement Pakistan played their old trump card of political Islam (23b) in Balochistan too. The charity wing of Hafiz Saeed Falah e Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) was encouraged — in the guise of social work — to establish religious schools in Balochistan following the 2013 earthquake. The buck doesn’t stops there. The state has acquired the services of the traitors within the Baloch. To name few Shafiq Mengal (24) and Balochistan’s former Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti (25) run the radical Islamist militant wings — aka death squads (26) — doing the dirty work for the masters in Rawalpindi. The death squads are involved in killing the nationalist activists with the nod of approval from the goons in khaki. These indoctrinated lot pass off as patriots in Pakistani circles (26). Siraj Raisani (now dead) was also on ISI’s payroll, his funeral was attended by Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa himself (27).

Despite Pakistan’s best efforts to render Balochistan an information blackhole the Baloch nationalists are succeding in taking their plight to the outside world (28). The mainstream Pakistani media channels operate in connivance with the ISPR. The media blackout not only allows the GHQ in hide the military excesses but also covering up the daily attacks on Pakistani security forces all over Balochistan by the above mentioned miltant groups (28a). In the age of social media and modern technolgy nothing remains a secret. The Baloch struggle is best highlighted by he nationalist newspapers Daily Sangar and The Balochistan Post. Daily Sangar produces brief videos every week documenting Pakistani atrocities👇👇👇…

The Balochistan Post has an English site for the international audience to benefit from (29). This writer has accessed the Urdu medium sites of the two papers. The political understanding of the activists connected to the papers is laudable. This is not a tribal movement as Pakistani critics of the Baloch movement allege. Daily Sangar even produced a literature on the renowned Indian freedom icon Subhash Chandra Bose (fondly known as Netaji)👇👇👇

….Current scenario

BLA’s attack on Chinese Counsulate in Karachi on 23rd November 2018 sent shockwaves in Islamabad, Beijing amd the world at large. Four days later the BLA chief Aslam Baloch and Dr Nazar warned to more attacks will continue on Chinese and Pakistani interests until the liberation of Balochistan (30). The high profile Karachi attack is the first time the Baloch freedom fighters carried out high profile hit on Pakistan outside Balochistan. 4 months earlier, on 11th August 2018 Rehan Baloch — son BLA chief Aslam Baloch — blew himself up on bus carrying Chinese workers on CPEC projects in Dalbandin, Balochistan — killing 2 Chinese citizens (31). China and Pakistan were more defiant in their responses. In reality, the CPEC is not about the economics but geo-strategic goals of China assisted by Pakistan. The attack on the Counsulate is unlikely to firce Chinese to re-consider its investments. If anything they’re likely to encourage the Pakistanis in stepping up the crackdown in Balochistan to secure the routes. The Karachi attack proves this much the insurgency in Balochistan is far from over. In 2011, (Al Jazeera) the guerilla commander Baloch Khan warned Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi could be the future targets of the Baloch freedom fighters. Has that time arrived? Only a time will tell but the signs are encouraging.

* International interests — particularly of India, China, Afghanistan, US and Iran — were supposed to be analysed but for the length of this article it’s best to skip it for now.

Faisal Hussain

Twitter: @SAW21107

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